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Courtesy of Manasc Isaac


The Greenstone Government of Canada Building is the very first LEED® Gold project in the Arctic, delivering sustainability and beauty amidst harsh climatic challenges.  

 Home to 200 federal employees, the facility consolidates 15 departments previously scattered across the city. The Greenstone offers staff comfort and amenities, including a delightful south-facing courtyard. 

 Designed to bring a little bit of nature indoors even through the long winter, a large curtain wall allows daylight to pour into the central atrium. This curtain wall holds an innovative secret; it contains photovoltaic panels that formed the largest of its kind in Canada (and second largest in the world!) at the time of the building’s opening. [1]

It was the first installation of its kind to be designed within a pre-glazed advanced curtain wall system, notwithstanding being applied to a building located within such an extreme climate as the Canadian North. The photovoltaic (PV) elements are sandwiched between two layers of glass on the exterior face of a high-performance four-part curtain wall system. Designed for its cold climate application, it is the largest curtain wall-integrated BIPV system in Canada, producing 35 kilowatts of energy. Having already performed very well in its first year of operation, the BIPV component was designed to replace the need for external shading devices, in addition to being able to generate electricity for the south-facing atrium, or “city room.” [2]

The south elevation of the Yellowknife project has approximately 810 square metres of VISIONWALL® 4-Element energy efficient curtain wall. The curtain wall is segmented into four frame wide groups and spans four storeys in an atrium area of the building. Approximately 300 m2 of the south curtain wall incorporate photovoltaic modules. The PV modules produce DC electric current and are interconnected into 16 independent groups to increase voltage. Power not used by the building is delivered to the electric utility grid system.  

The PV modules have been positioned within the curtain wall layout to provide shading to the interior atrium space. This eliminated the need to provide shading devices that would have been otherwise necessary to reduce solar loading in the interior space. The VISIONWALL® BIPV system is expected to deliver approximately 35,000 kilowatt hours of electric power annually, about 5% of the building’s electrical demand. The combination of the extremely high insulating values of the VISIONWALL® 4-Element curtain wall, together with the BIPV system make this one of the most energy efficient curtain walls in the world. This has contributed significantly to the project’s design intent of being a highly sustainable, energy efficient, and occupant friendly structure. [3]


Consulting Engineers of Alberta, Award of Merit, 2006
Athena Institute, Brilliant Building Award, 2007
Royal Architectural Institute of Canada, Innovation in Architecture Award of Excellence, 2007


[1]      “Greenstone Government of Canada Building.” Greenstone Government of Canada Building – Manasc Isaac Architects. Accessed July 7, 2021. https://manascisaac.com/work/greenstone-government-of-canada-building.

[2]      “Greenstone Government of Canada Building.” Canadian Architect, April 30, 2007. https://www.canadianarchitect.com/greenstone-government-of-canada-building/.

[3]       “Visionwall Project Profile: Greenstone Building.” Visionwall, n.d. http://www.visionwall.com/res/pdf/GreenstoneProjectProfile.pdf.

Additional information:

“Greenstone Building, Yellowknife.” Canadian Consulting Engineer. Accessed July 7, 2021. https://www.canadianconsultingengineer.com/features/greenstone-building-yellowknife/.

“Greenstone Building.” Williams Engineering, December 13, 2016. https://williamsengineering.com/mcm_social-infrastru/greenstone-building/.

Freitas, Sara. (2018). Photovoltaic Potential in Building Façades. 10.13140/RG.2.2.33579.59681.

Project Title: Greenstone Building
Artists:  Manasc Isaac
Year: 2005

Place: Yellowknife, Northwest Territories

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